Day 1: PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – THIMPHU (L/D)
Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Thimphu, Bhutan’s beautifully located capital city which is about 45 minutes drive (53km) from the airport.
Lunch will be served at your hotel.
In the afternoon visit the Tashichho Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery which houses most of the Government’s office and King’s Throne room. It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. Then visit the National Library which has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts. After that, drive to Painting School, famous for traditional thangkha paintings. Here you will see students at work producing intricate design on cloth. If time permits, also visit the Traditional Medicine Institute.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel.in Thimphu
Day 2: THIMPHU AND DAY TREK TO PHAJODING MONASTERY (B/L/D)
Breakfast at your hotel, then drive to the forested edge of Thimphu to commence a five hour return trek to the Phajoding Monastery – which dates from the 13th century. The route climbs 1,100m through rhododendron forests to the monastery at 3,600m above sea level. The resident monks will welcome you to their place of worship – and a picnic lunch will be served. This day walk is actually the first part of the famous Druk Path trek between Thimphu and Paro.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: THIMPHU-PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
Breakfast at your hotel then drive up into the mountains and the spectacular Dochula pass at a height of around 3140m. If the weather is clear you will be able to enjoy superb views over the high Himalayan mountain peaks.
Here you can also take a 3 hour trek to Lhuenchutse monastery several hundred meters above the Dochula pass. A late lunch or afternoon tea will be served at the Dochula Resort.
On the way to Punakha, visit Chimey Lhakhang located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metsina. Built in 1499 the temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. A wooden effigy of the lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a blessing.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
Day 4: PUNAKHA – GANGTEY IN THE PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (B/L/D)
Breakfast at your hotel.
Take a 45 minute walk to a chorten or stupa at Nyizergang followed by a visit to the amazing Punakha Dzong which was built in 1637. This impressive dzong is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). The Punakha Dzong was the second of Bhutan’s dzongs and until the mid-1950s, it served as the seat of the government. It is also the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and the Central Monastic Body.
After lunch, drive through to Gangtey with a visit en route to the Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638. This dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tsang Chu rivers.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Gangtey.
Day 5: GANGTEY – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – TRONGSA (B/L/D)
After breakfast at your hotel, take a leisurely walk through Gangtey village and then along a nature trail through the Phobjikha valley. This glaciated valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains is the winter home for a large flock of black-necked cranes. In addition to the cranes, there are also muntjacs (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan Black bears, leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills.
Lunch at your hotel then drive through to Trongsa.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
Day 6: TRONGSA-THIMPHU (B/L/D)
Breakfast at your hotel, and then explore the scenically located and historic Trongsa Dzong. Here you may also have a chance to see Bhutanese archers playing their favourite sport. After lunch return through the mountains to Thimphu with a short stop at Wangdue Phodrang if time permits.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu
Day 7: THIMPHU-PARO (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive through to Paro to visit Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627 and also to visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong which was built in 1644 to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century and also visit the Rimpung Dzong built in 1646.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 8: TAKTSHANG MONASTRY OR TIGER’S NEST (B/L/D)
After breakfast, take a short drive to the base of the famous Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest, which clings to a sheer rock face at a height of 2600m above sea level. The climb is quite steep, but ponies are available for those who feel they cannot make the climb themselves.
The main temple was built around Guru Rinpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock face which plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorje Drolo.
After lunch, visit Ta Dzong an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 9: PARO – PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (B)
After breakfast drive to Paro International Airport for your departure from Bhutan.